Caramelized Apple Custard Cake
Top Thanksgiving Desserts That Aren’t Pie

Let’s be honest, not all of us are pie people, and that’s just okay. While most think of pumpkin, apple or pecan pie as “must have” desserts on the Thanksgiving table, for you this may be a big challenge. Or maybe you’re just looking to mix things up this year.

Luckily, there are a slew of celebratory, fall-themed desserts that will work beautifully at your gathering. Apple, pumpkin, cranberry, orange, pecans and cinnamon can be taken to so many delicious ends… Here are some of the best, sans-crust treats:

A Super Moist Apple Cake with Maple Cinnamon Frosting

Homemade applesauce in the batter makes this apple cake a winner. It gives it a beautiful texture, and cooking the apples in bourbon provides a unique, festive flavor.

Bourbon Apple Cake with Maple Cinnamon Frosting

It really is worth it to make your own apple puree for this cake, instead of reaching for a jar of apple sauce. You'll get better texture and flavor from fresh apples, plus have the opportunity to infuse them with bourbon, lending a subtle yet unmistakable note to the cake. The bourbon cooks with the apples, so much of it evaporates, but if you prefer not to use alcohol you can substitute orange juice.
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A Decadent Bread Pudding with a Twist

This is one of my favorite desserts. Using apples in a bread pudding is special enough, but the caramel sauce flavored with mellow white miso paste is out of this world. Just enough salty punch, without being overpowering.

Apple-Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Miso Caramel Sauce

Don't be put off by the miso in the caramel sauce. Admittedly, the first time I used miso in caramel I was skeptical, but wow – it adds an incredible depth of flavor – and you'll be surprised how much you love it. This is a great dinner party dish, as it can all be assembled ahead, but also a supremely comforting cold-weather treat. Making your own applesauce is an extra step, but well worth it for the chunky texture that only homemade can provide. You can bake it in individual ramekins, or one large baking dish.
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Vanilla Cinnamon Apples Baked in a Creamy Custard

A simple, homey dessert, that – thanks to its French roots – can play the part of an elegant finale. A quick and easy custard gets poured over caramelized apple slices and baked until set, but still silky and creamy.

Caramelized Apple Custard Cake

This dessert has just enough flour to remove it from the realm of custards, but yet not enough to make it fully a cake. Hence, a "custard cake." If you know clafoutis, it's sort of like that consistency. And like a clafoutis, I suggest serving it perfectly warm from the oven, with a scoop of ice cream, on a crisp fall day. I like my apples to have a slight bite to them for texture, but you can cook them longer if you prefer a softer result (see instructions).
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The Easiest Pumpkin Ice Cream

A no fuss, no churn treat for pumpkin spice lovers. It’s as easy as it is soft and delicious.

Pumpkin Butter No Churn Ice Cream

The bourbon in this recipe adds a wonderful background note, but if you'd rather not use alcohol, leave it out. It does help the ice cream from freezing too hard, so if you go sans bourbon, remove the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before scooping to soften. No churn ice cream is such an easy dessert to make, and despite its simplicity, has an amazing consistency. Here, pumpkin butter provides a rich concentration of flavor.
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A Buttery Cranberry Orange Bundt

Bundt cakes fancy up the party with their fluted and dramatic shape. This one is studded with cranberries and orange zest, is finished with a shiny glaze. One of the best bundts around.

Cranberry Bundt Cake

Adapted from Sarah Copeland’s “Every Day is Saturday”
When I first made this cake for a Cookbook Club gathering, I knew it was a keeper. It has become one of our family's favorite holiday cakes due to its superb flavor and moist richness. To start, the cranberries are a seasonal treat, their tartness here offset by the sweet sugar glaze. But the addition of bitters, while not overly pronounced, gives the cake a subtle sophistication that you'll love.
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A Chocolatey Pumpkin Dessert with Butterscotch Sauce

I’m hooked on chocolate studded pumpkin desserts. Two ingredients couldn’t be a more beautiful match, and this decadent dessert will make you, too, a believer, if you aren’t there already.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Adapted from Epicurious
If serving this for a dinner party, assemble the bread pudding and make the sauce ahead of time. Cover both, and keep them in the refrigerator until ready to bake. You’ll want to pop the bread pudding in your preheated oven a little over an hour before you plan to serve it, rewarming the sauce in the microwave. Sometimes, if I’m feeling extra decadent, I’ll serve it with vanilla ice cream. I love to watch as it melts and oozes into all the nooks and crannies of the bread pudding, though it’s perfectly delicious all on its own.
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An Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crumbles

Individual desserts that you can make ahead and taste like fall in a jar? Yes, please. A crushed chocolate sandwich cookie base and easy pumpkin cream cheese mousse make this treat extra special.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Jars

A simple, no bake cheesecake that tastes like fall in a jar. There's nothing fancy about it. Chocolate sandwich cookies are crumbled on the bottom, then a pumpkin pie-spiced cream cheese filling is piped or spooned on top. I like to use mascarpone cheese for its sweet and ultra creamy texture, but a regular full-fat cream cheese will work beautifully as well.
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Bourbon Spiked Ginger Pecan Balls

Get your pecan pie-like fix with these boozy little rum balls. They are easy to put together, last forever, and are perfect for an added sweet bite on your Thanksgiving table.

Pecan Pie Bourbon Balls

These only take a short time to make. Everything goes into the food processor, the bourbon and honey make everything stick together, and you simply roll into balls and coat with powdered sugar. After a day or two, the powdered sugar will absorb into the balls and the bright white will fade, but it’s easy enough to reroll in the sugar to spruce them up for serving. They are punchy, sweet, and fudgy with a smidge of ginger and are a wonderful holiday treat.
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